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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Bill Would Add Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity To Montana's Non-discrimination Law

Montana Capitol
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio
Montana Capitol.

On Wednesday, a bill that would make it unlawful to discriminate against anyone based on their gender identity or expression or sexual orientation will have a hearing at the Montana Legislature. Montana law already protects against discrimination based on sex, race, and creed. Democratic Representative Kelly McCarthy of Billings is carrying House Bill 417.

"All we’re saying is that you don’t get to single out people and deny them the rights that the rest of us have because you don’t like something about them," says McCarthy.

Last session, a similar bill did not make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican Senator Cary Smith of Billings didn’t support the bill in 2015.

"I’m just not interested in adding additional classes of people that identify (them)selves as different than the rest of the population, and think they need a discrimination protection against that," says Smith.

The hearing for House Bill 417 is Wednesday morning in the House Judiciary Committee.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.